From HRWatchdog Blog: Bizarre Excuses for Being Late to Work

Every now and then, the morning just doesn’t go right and you wind up running late for work.

When asked in a new survey from CareerBuilder how often they come in late to work, more than 23% of respondents admitted they do it at least once a month and 14% say it’s a weekly occurrence for them.

Work Repercussions

Of the workers who admitted to being late for work in the past, 30% said they fibbed about the reason for their tardiness. Maybe they lied because the repercussions of lateness could be serious: 41% of employers who participated in the survey said they have actually fired an employee for being late.

Some employers are more lenient than others:

• 33% of employers who participated in the survey said they don’t have a problem with the occasional late arrival, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern.

• 16% said they don’t need employees to be punctual if they can still get their work done (this ties into the fact that 59% of workers who arrive late said they will stay later to make up for it).

Common Reasons for Being Late

Traffic is the most common cause of tardiness among employees (50%), followed by lack of sleep (30%) and bad weather (26%). Trying to get the kids to school or daycare is a roadblock for 1 in 10 workers (12%), while public transportation and wardrobe issues get in the way of being on time for 7% and 6% of workers, respectively.

Most Bizarre Excuses

Some workers place the blame on less conventional reasons. When asked about the most outrageous excuses employees used for being late, employers shared the following:

• I was drunk and forgot which Waffle House I parked my car next to.

• I had to wait for the judge to set my bail.

• I discovered my spouse was having an affair, so I followed him this morning to find out who he was having an affair with.

• Someone robbed the gas station I was at, and I didn’t have enough gas to get to another station.

• There was a stranger sleeping in my car.

• A deer herd that was moving through town made me late.

• I’m not late. I was thinking about work on the way in.

• I dreamed that I got fired.

• I went out to my car to drive to work, and the trunk had been stolen out of it (in this case, the employee had the photo to prove it).

Harris Poll conducted the online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,192 hiring managers and HR professionals and 3,056 U.S. workers (employed full­time, not self-employed, nongovernment) between November 4 and December 2, 2014.

HR Library

Absenteeism and tardiness are among the most frequent and difficult employee behaviors to discipline. CalChamber members can get more details on dealing with these issues from the HR Library’s Absenteeism and Tardiness page on